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More than 150 vehicles were stopped and a string of arrests made as part of a region-wide rural crime crackdown.


More than 150 vehicles were stopped and a string of arrests made as part of a region-wide rural crime crackdown.

The latest Operation Checkpoint initiative was staged across the North of England recently with officers, partners and volunteers teaming up to target rural criminals.

The largest rural crime operation of its kind in the UK, Operation Checkpoint sees a number of police forces working collaboratively to prevent and tackle rural acquisitive crime, wildlife and poaching offences.

Across the force areas for Northumbria, Durham, Cleveland, Cumbria, North Yorkshire and Police Scotland, a total of 159 vehicles were proactively stopped as part of the dedicated week of action – with police carrying out routine checks on anything that stirred suspicion.

Unfortunately for one driver who was pulled over in the Northumbria area, officers quickly suspected he was under the influence of alcohol. He was arrested and subsequently charged with driving a motor vehicle whilst above the alcohol limit later the same day.

Northumbria’s crime-fighting contingent were again boosted by 15 Rural Crime Volunteers, a team of rural residents who feed directly into on-patrol officers about anything that looks unusual in the areas they know best.

Inspector Garry Neill, of Northumbria Police’s dedicated Rural Crime Team, said: “We know that Operation Checkpoint gets results and that’s because of everyone’s passion, dedication and determination to protect our rural communities.

“We’ve made great strides in recent months through planned operations like this, and with the support of partners and more neighbouring forces than ever before, we really are sending a clear message to criminals.

“More than £1.25 million-worth of stolen farming and agricultural equipment has been successfully recovered since our rural policing team was formed in 2020, and we’ve also seen a 20 per cent reduction in the number of All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) reported as stolen this year.

“But there’s still so much more we’ve got planned in our ongoing fight against rural crime.

“The creation of Northumberland Partnership Against Rural Crime (NPARC) – bringing regional partners’ expertise to the table – has only strengthened our hand further.

“We are excited about the future, and I’d like to thank everyone who was involved in Operation Checkpoint, which proved to be an overwhelming success once again.”

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “Once again, with the help of our local volunteers, Operation Checkpoint has achieved some impressive results. These proactive policing efforts highlight how the fight against rural crime is very much on in Northumberland.

“All this work is about reassuring local people who live in our more isolated communities and it’s also a real warning to offenders who think they can target these parts and get away with it. Chances are these countryside criminals will soon be caught and there are cells waiting for them.

“We secured funding specifically for the development of a rural crime taskforce and I’ve invested in cutting edge technologies and number plate recognition – all this together is about really tightening the net around suspects and bringing crime down.”

Neighbouring forces across the North of England also supported the collective crackdown in carrying out their own Operation Checkpoint activity to tackle rural crime. All those involved were supported by their own Special Constables, Operations Departments, Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT), Response Officers and Intelligence Officers, as well as partners such as those at the Environment Agency.

To keep up to date with NPARC’s work, follow @northumbriapol and @NPNland on Twitter.

Redcar & Cleveland Neighbourhoods Chief Inspector Jon Hagen said: “We’d like to thank our volunteers and our colleagues from North Yorkshire Police and partner agencies for their support last week.


“Our rural communities can be assured we’ll continue to support them by running further operations.

“We’d also encourage people to join our Rural Watch initiative, look under advice and information on the Cleveland Police website: Rural Watch | Cleveland Police.”


Cumbria Constabulary’s Rural Crime Team Sergeant, Amanda McKirdy, said: “We continue to see the value in working alongside our colleagues over the borders to target travelling criminals.


“Working together and communicating is key to making our County a hostile place for criminality. Operation Lantern is the constabulary’s dedicated operation to target rural crime within Cumbria. The operation aims to prevent and disrupt serious and organised rural acquisitive crime that occurs in our county.


“I’d also like to credit our dedicated volunteers and rural communities who remain committed to reporting suspicious activity and enabling our relentless pursuit of those not welcome here.”

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